Archive for the ‘ rights ’ Category

The Softer Side Of Mechanical Atheism

I didn’t quite get this one posted when I wanted, but these two videos popped into my world at the same moment almost. Everybody should know I’m a supporter of the work Neil deGrasse Tyson is doing and that I enjoy the way that he does it. Everyone from 5 years old to 95 years old can understand and learn from NdGT. More on that after the videos.

Naming Rights

This video is not for the mechanical atheist. Well, maybe it is. This is the feel good, nicely colored, aesthetic version of how I consider my world view. This is the emotional atheist side of my world view or at least some of it. Some of the important parts of it. The question of meaning, purpose, and peanut butter cannot be easily handled with mechanical explanations. They more often require the emotional explanation. This is a good one as far as that goes. Enjoy…

The Center Of All Things – not

No, NASA has not done anything special with peanut butter nor do I think it essential for humanity’s future. Don’t get me wrong, we shouldn’t stop eating peanut butter, not by a long shot. I just think that there are things which cannot effectively be explained with the mechanics to every audience. Those were just three of them.

I’m not sure that the mechanical atheist point of view is all that palatable for many. Well, this is the emotional atheist side of the same coin. In case anyone was wondering, I like this side too.

Oh, okay… here’s the peanut butter reference

Damn those tricky theist scientists.

On naming things.  I kind of thought I had invented a term “mechanical atheism” and atheist etc. A Google search turns up an article about men long dead who appear to have used the term also. Well, na na na, I’m still going to use it as I have defined it here on this blog. It’s a short article, read it.

I don’t think that I’ve ruined the term at all though. Hmmm

Mechanism, in the sense of mechanistic philosophy as it is currently conceived, shares with its ancient roots the sense of power and ability. For according to this philosophy, the organization of the universe, including living things, is entirely explicable by the “mechanical” laws of physics and chemistry. As William Provine puts it,

the world is organized in accordance with mechanistic principles. There are no purposive principles whatever in nature. There are no gods and no designing forces that are rationally detectable. (25)

Draw Mo Day – Mo Needs A Better Image

Of course I support it



That is all

My World View – Compassion

Compassion:  sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.

The Buddha taught that to realize enlightenment, a person must develop two qualities: wisdom and compassion. Wisdom and compassion are sometimes compared to two wings that work together to enable flying, or two eyes that work together to see deeply.

I won’t claim to have all knowledge on what compassion is, but I have some ideas. I remember that on one of my many business trips I found myself with some time and so I wandered over to the city zoo.  This one trip was interesting in that they allowed some feeding of the ducks in one area. You could buy some pellet food from a candy dispenser kind of thing. I was watching the ducks and people choreograph this dance of symbiosis and noticed a small girl looking at the dispenser, then at the ducks and people feeding them, then back at the dispenser. A few moments later I saw her do the same things. She did not speak but you could clearly see the thought bubble over her head. I thought for a moment… she seemed to be by her self. For no particular reason more than wanting to see her throw the pellets, I walked over and placed 50 cents in the slot and beckoned her to hold her hands under then spot of the dispenser. As she was throwing the pellets one at a time down to the ducks, you could hear the joy on her face. I could hear it even as I walked on to  some other part of the zoo. I don’t know what compassion is, but I think I have some ideas.

…… So let’s see what says. Only 41 references, and some are how to not earn compassion from YHWH. Go figure. Number 5 in the list is kind of interesting… hmmmm I think I see a Sunday Sermon there.

  1. Exodus 2:6 (Whole Chapter)
    And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children.
  2. Deuteronomy 13:17 (Whole Chapter)
    And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers;
  3. Deuteronomy 30:3 (Whole Chapter)
    That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
  4. 1 Samuel 23:21 (Whole Chapter)
    And Saul said, Blessed be ye of the LORD; for ye have compassion on me.
  5. 1 Kings 8:50 (Whole Chapter)
    And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them:
  6. 2 Kings 13:23 (Whole Chapter)
    And the LORD was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he them from his presence as yet.
  7. 2 Chronicles 30:9 (Whole Chapter)
    For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.
  8. 2 Chronicles 36:15 (Whole Chapter)
    And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place:
  9. 2 Chronicles 36:17 (Whole Chapter)
    Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand.
  10. Psalm 78:38 (Whole Chapter)
    But he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath.
  11. Psalm 86:15 (Whole Chapter)
    But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
  12. Psalm 111:4 (Whole Chapter)
    He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.
  13. Psalm 112:4 (Whole Chapter)
    Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
  14. Psalm 145:8 (Whole Chapter)
    The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.
  15. Isaiah 49:15 (Whole Chapter)
    Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
  16. Jeremiah 12:15 (Whole Chapter)
    And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land.
  17. Lamentations 3:22 (Whole Chapter)
    It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
  18. Lamentations 3:32 (Whole Chapter)
    But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies.
  19. Ezekiel 16:5 (Whole Chapter)
    None eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the lothing of thy person, in the day that thou wast born.
  20. Micah 7:19 (Whole Chapter)
    He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
  21. Zechariah 7:9 (Whole Chapter)
    Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:
  22. Matthew 9:36 (Whole Chapter)
    But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
  23. Matthew 14:14 (Whole Chapter)
    And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
  24. Matthew 15:32 (Whole Chapter)
    Then Jesus called his disciples unto him, and said, I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.
  25. Matthew 18:27 (Whole Chapter)
    Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
  1. Matthew 18:33 (Whole Chapter)
    Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
  2. Matthew 20:34 (Whole Chapter)
    So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.
  3. Mark 1:41 (Whole Chapter)
    And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
  4. Mark 5:19 (Whole Chapter)
    Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
  5. Mark 6:34 (Whole Chapter)
    And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
  6. Mark 8:2 (Whole Chapter)
    I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:
  7. Mark 9:22 (Whole Chapter)
    And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
  8. Luke 7:13 (Whole Chapter)
    And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
  9. Luke 10:33 (Whole Chapter)
    But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
  10. Luke 15:20 (Whole Chapter)
    And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
  11. Romans 9:15 (Whole Chapter)
    For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
  12. Hebrews 5:2 (Whole Chapter)
    Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.
  13. Hebrews 10:34 (Whole Chapter)
    For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
  14. 1 Peter 3:8 (Whole Chapter)
    Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
  15. 1 John 3:17 (Whole Chapter)
    But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
  16. Jude 1:22 (Whole Chapter)
    And of some have compassion, making a difference:

Apparently, Christians are called to be compassionate toward others. I’m not sure you could know this just by hanging out with them, at least not here in North America. That last one would make a pretty good bumper sticker? No?

I guess that many of them don’t seem to get it.

In The Gospel According To Romans we see that perhaps that bible is not so good at consistently showing defining compassion.

I’ve just equated voting to allow equal rights with regard to marriage with showing compassion to other humans. Yes I did.

So what do statistics have to say, Well at least some of them.

Why should we show compassion on those who only ask for equal rights? Because doing so does not harm us and eases the pain of others around us. Both Jesus and Buddha taught that this is right. I’m anti-theist and I do it because it is right, not because it is moral or to earn credit for the next life, but exactly because it alleviates pain for those around me and selfishly I find this is one of the best ways to help ensure that the world around me is a place that is not painful to live in. I think you should do it too.

Wait, is that it? Is that all there is to it?

Yes, that’s pretty much it. Compassion. It’s so easy a dog can do it.

But there is more…

Visit this page for some ideas on how to show your compassion more than simply voting against bigotry.


Things I Don’t Believe In (I’m looking at you Sam Harris)

I like to think that my lack of belief in gods, ghosts, the supernatural etc. does not mean that I have a specific world view. I like to think that I’m free to take knowledge from any place I find it. That said I also like to think that I don’t have to agree with every famous atheist alive in order to have a valid world view as an atheist.

To that point, I have disagreed with Sam Harris on a number of issues, and today we find one more. Mr Harris wrote that we should be profiling airline travellers to ensure our safety in his post In Defense of Profiling.

He makes quite a few good points about the ineffectual nature of the TSA and by reason Homeland Security. I’ve said as much too. The trouble is that Mr Harris goes on to state that travellers should be profiled and that we should be wasting money trying to stop what will not be stopped without far more effort than is being made. The next terrorist plot will not be with an airplane and no matter what method is chosen we will not be ready for it. More pointedly, our resources will be tied up with worrying about how to deal with airline based terrorism rather than in creating an infrastructure and citizenry that is ready to respond to any threat without regard to its method. Can any reader name more than one terrorism plot foiled by either the TSA or Homeland Security? Let me know in the comments.

Update: I just thought, profiling would not have caught the shoe bomber or the Oklahoma City bombers. In fact there are innumerable situations that the TSA and Homeland Security have failed miserably to address. Sure the TSA is limited in scope, but their budget doesn’t seem that way.

I have said just in the past week that we should shut down the TSA and Homeland security. Give 15% of that budget to the FBI and let them do their jobs – they’re good at doing that. Now take the other 85% and give it to NASA.

Stop terrorizing and traumatizing little kids and old folk and lets get our happy little asses to Mars… like yesterday!

Sam, please stop telling people to keep wasting money and resources on silly crap that is grossly ineffectual, even on its best possible day. Stop acting like the FBI doesn’t know what they are doing. Stop acting like ‘doing something’ has to mean doing something that wasn’t already being done. You cannot predict where lightning will strike, but you can do some cost effective things to prevent or minimize the damage done when it does strike. By the by, you don’t put lighting protection only in airports.

Besides, Sam, if we have no free will isn’t it likely that we aren’t going to be able to prevent terrorism?

I Don’t Give A Damn!

Yes, it took me a whole 5 seconds to get that title out of …. yeah, my ass.

Today I found a cornucopia (perhaps an exaggeration) of posts talking about how not believing in gods means you have to want society to be better than it is, or things along those lines. First there is Greta Christina’s ‘Why Atheism Demands Social Justice’ post which is not really that bad other than it’s premise.

Now, there’s no reason to think that atheism creates these high levels of social functioning. In fact, it seems to be the other way around. When people are happy, stable, well-educated, empowered, and have high hopes for their children, they’re more likely to let go of their belief in God. A high level of social functioning creates atheism, or contributes to it, anyway.

So if we want to create a world with more atheists—and thus a world that’s safer and better for atheists—it would be very much to our advantage to create a world that’s safer and better for everybody. A world with greater social justice is far more likely to be a more atheistic world. Hey, I warned you that I was going to be crass.

Clearly she has a grip, but she is pushing for all atheists to give a damn. People used to say ‘don’t mess with mother nature’ and I’m going to go ahead and say don’t mess with causality. I think her point is wrong for a number of reasons but lets get the sources of my rant out of the way first.

Then Larry Moran has a post about ‘The Problem of Evolution in America’   where he posits this about Jerry Coyne’s opinion

I think he’s right about this. You can remove the need for religion by creating a more just society. But I don’t think it will be easy. Looking at it from the outside, it appears to me that there are millions of Americans who don’t accept the just society2 as a desirable goal. They call themselves “Republicans” and they vote for people like Rick Santorum.

Lets not hand the award to Moran when Coyne so justly deserves it for these

Creationism in America, then, may be a symptom of religion, but religion in the modern world may itself be a symptom of unhealthy societies.

If you’re thinking captain obvious is using Coyne as a hand puppet… you might be right.

Ultimately, the best strategy to make Americans more receptive to evolution might require loosening the grip of religion on our country.

Ok, all doubt removed, captain obvious IS using Coyne as a hand puppet. Moran is arguing for science and he has always done well in that respect. You can be certain of this when he says:

You will also understand that the problem is not evolution vs creationism but science vs religion. You can’t ever solve the problem of creationism without dealing directly with the false doctrines of religion.

And now I can’t seem to find the third reference in the plethora of RSS feed articles which prompted this little rant. The problem is not uncommon. There are many who think all atheists belong to their own special community which has some kind of movement. Many outspoken atheists also seem think that all atheists must also be humanists or somehow in support of their particular secularist goals. Well, I’m not and I’m tired of the inferred relationships, the distressing insistence that my value to society depends on my agreement with their pet cause(s). I find it condescending and rude to insinuate that because I do not believe in gods I must also believe like they do.

That quickly brings me back to the title. You see, as a human ape I have a certain amount of ‘give a damn’ and it is most profoundly limited by geography, time, and my resources. That is to say that

  1. beyond some geographical range there are things that happen all the time and I don’t give a damn because it’s outside my purview.
  2. I am also time limited as to what I can give a damn about. Seriously, I can only give a damn about things for a certain small number of hours per day. The rest of the time I’m too busy to give a damn.
  3. And finally there are tons of things that I have no resource with which to affect them so whether I want to or not I can’t give a damn, nor a dime, nor my time etc.

My ‘give a damn’ is restricted in these and other ways so for most of these people’s pet causes I just don’t give a damn. If they want me to give a damn they are going to have to fix it so that their pet cause is inside the limitation of my give a damns.

What that means is that if you want to fight social injustice you will HAVE to make it easy for me to help you rather than simply insist that because I don’t believe in gods I absolutely must be out in the trenches with you fighting your bogey men. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all or even many secular causes are bogus or not worthy. I’m saying that you telling me I should care just doesn’t get it. My give a damns are limited. If you want some of them you’ll have to do more than insist that I’m not a good person because my atheism doesn’t lead me into the same trench fights as you.

I don’t agree with him all the time, but in the post ‘On Fundamentalist Reductionism’ Massimo Pigliucci concludes with:

In recent years, the secular movement has learned from the gay rights movement the importance of identity politics. A group cannot gain acceptance when its members are closeted, accepting marginalization. This partly explains the success of last month’s Reason Rallyin Washington, where thousands of seculars took to the National Mall.As the movement gains momentum we can expect more identity-based activism, more reminders from the secular community that nonbelievers are part of the American landscape. Seculars are demanding recognition, speaking out against religious-based public policy, and opposing the vilification of secularity, and they are finding that “coming out” is a powerful means of achieving these ends. It’s unlikely that they will stop until open atheists, like open gays and lesbians, are routinely being elected to office.

Here we see definition or explanation being given with attribution given correctly; secular movement, not atheist movement. Secular ideologies can have a movement. Atheism cannot. Read that again. Write it down. Memorize it. Live and breathe it. No, it’s not a grammar nazi thing. Not believing in gods does not present ideals or goals. Secularism and humanism do. The latter can have a movement and agenda where the former cannot. My atheism is not a handle stuck the side of my head that you can use to lead me around. Quit trying to tell me how to behave simply because you think my non-belief means I agree with you. I don’t agree with you on the basis that we both don’t believe in fairy tales and I don’t give a damn.

I don’t want a world that is safe for atheists. Hell no. I want a world that is dangerous to dangerously bad ideas. All kinds of them, not just religious ones. If you simply set out to get rid of the ‘stupid’ in the world you’d never have to then go get rid of religion. Getting rid of theism is not about making it safe for atheists and never has been. It’s about getting rid of dangerous and bad ideas and ideologies. I could be a deist and still believe those last few statements. I don’t really want to kill baby jesus. I just want him out of my politics and no where near any military leaders etc.

I am an atheist. My ideals are my own. I speak for no other atheists. No other atheist speaks for me. Being an atheist simply means that I am one of many human apes that does not believe in supernatural beings and/or magic. Knowing only that I’m an atheist means that you cannot reliably say more about me than I have just done. You cannot assume that I support this cause or that, nor can you assume that I will agree with you or even that I will give a damn. Mostly … I don’t give a damn because you have not yet brought your pet cause within range of my give a damns. Just the same, good luck to you with that movement thing. Look me up when you get close to my part of the world.


There is also this post by the Blag Hag about E.O.Wilson where she talks about science stuff. His talk was about group selection versus kin selection and that brings in the other thought for the day. I firmly believe that human behavior, for the most part, can be summarized nicely with maxims. Things like:

  • If there is a loophole it will get used – because human apes are like that
  • If a pair of individuals can copulate, they will and have done so already – completely disregarding your mate selection theories
  • A fool proof design only creates smarter fools – who then graduate and design more fool proof stuff
  • Intelligence is what is left over from billions and billions of failures by stupid. No, this is not the monkeys with typewriters thing, it’s just that intelligence is not a mistake or divine gift, it’s what we seem to be after we’ve already tried all the stupid ideas.

and so on. The point is that if group selection can happen, it did and does – BUT it is limited by the same things that limit my ‘give a damns’ or most probably so.

Why Atheists Support Slavery

Catchy title, no?

For the millionth time, atheism is a lack of belief in gods. Nothing more, nothing less. It is NOT  a world view. Over at Black Skeptics on FreeThoughtBlogs there is a new post. So why do I care? Simple. I’m an atheist, no I’m an anti-theist but I get lumped in with atheists anyway. There is no shortage of people willing to claim that atheism is a world view AND a movement. Bollocks! It is neither, unless you consider that people who wear blue clothing is a world view AND a movement. Bullocks!

Why do I even care? For the same reason that I think those of faith should stand against people who speak in their name. This post claims that American Atheists should have consulted others before speaking their piece. That they should have known that many people would be too ignorant to understand a clear message. Yes, lets parley with the most ignorant of society before using our first amendment rights. Something I’m certain that any oppressed group would do if asked nicely. This whole thing is disgusting. There is no need to educate, no, lets instead complain that there are ignorant people who should be kowtowed to first.

From the post:

So is AA on the frontlines of providing prisoner re-entry resources—the real regime of 21st century “enslavement” for millions of African Americans—to families and communities that are permanently locked out of the so-called American dream due to the legal disenfranchisement of former convicted felons in employment, housing, and voting?

What has this got to do with anything? This is stated like there are no white families permanently locked out of the so-called American dream. This is a logic fail and a plea for special consideration.

Did AA even deign to consult with local interfaith and secular, humanist or atheist people of color about the cultural and psychological impact of the legacy of slavery in a nation where black bodies are still the primary targets of violent police suppression, racist criminal sentencing and capital punishment?

Why would they have to? Nothing requires them to do so. Secondly, prove that they did not. Wild claims like this are inflammatory and cause to dismiss the claimant without pause.

Of course not.  As I wrote in my 2009 article The White Stuff,  “It’s cartoonishly pro forma when white folk, ignorant of these historical traditions, swaggeringly insist that atheist discourse is implicitly anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-heterosexist because one, we white people say so, and, two, hierarchy is something only those knuckle-dragging supernaturalists do.

“We white people” ? Seriously, that is your effort to be taken seriously? I get it, you’re pissed because nobody consulted you. Did you consult with any white people before spouting this stuff? Should you have to? Is your skin that thin? How can you credibly denounce non-black racists when  you sound racist yourself?

It’s paint-by-the-numbers entitlement time when the so-called new atheist “movement” is resistant to the charge that racial and gender politics just might inform who achieves visibility and which issues are privileged in the broader context of skeptical discourse.

Are you bitching that you got left out? Welcome to the club. At the moment that pretty much describes anyone who professes to be atheist. Are you claiming special privilege because your skin color is not considered white?

It’s not PC to point out that traditions of scientific racism, secularism, and Judeo Christian religiosity went gleefully hand in hand for much of the West’s enlightened history.”

What exactly are you angry at? When you say the word slave in North America, what picture comes to mind? If you think those ignorant fools didn’t understand this billboard, how much less would they have understood if the picture showed a white person? an Hispanic person? A Jewish person? Maybe a surfer dude in shackles would have been more useful? As unfortunate as it is, we can’t go back and change what happened. Slaves in North America were black. The message on the billboard was clear. If everyone and anyone needs to consult with black people before talking about anything that has any relation to slavery we’re all fucked. By all means, go ahead and be pissed off. Just don’t expect much sympathy when your reaction is racist in tone if not racist in nature.

I am an atheist. The AA does not speak for me. I do not speak for them. There is NO movement. Atheism is not a world view. Stop listening to people who tell you differently. I would have agreed with you … right up to the point that you started lashing out at anyone who is not black. Now, you’re just a crazy shit with too much time to talk.

In case you have not been paying attention, those billboards are meant to start a conversation. To provoke a reaction. You bit down and swallowed the hook and the conversation wasn’t even about you. Now you’re being counterproductive. Passing on the opportunity to educate. Respect is earned, not demanded. Rights? They have a right to post that billboard. Be careful how you treat other’s rights… isn’t that what the civil rights movement was about?

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